Cynthia Nicole

On Top Magazine - January 16, 2009

Honduras Transgender Community Terrified After Third Murder

The violent murder of a prominent transgender rights activist in Honduras has left the transgender community stunned and terrified.

Cynthia Nicole, a prominent transgender rights activist, was fatally wounded by three shots in the chest and one in the head in a violent drive-by shooting in the district of Barrio Guaserique in Comayaguela during the early hours of January 9.

Her death comes on the heels of two additional killings against transgender sex workers in the Central American country. Yasmin was attacked and killed on November 20, and Noelia was stabbed to death on December 17.

Human Rights Watch, a group dedicated to defending the rights of racial, economic and sexual minorities around the world, is calling on Honduran authorities to fully investigate these murders.

Transgender rights watchers in the country, however, report authorities do not protect the rights of sexual minorities.

“Impunity compounds the violence,” said Juliana Cano Nieto, a researcher with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. “If authorities fail to investigate attacks, victims have no reason to report them – and are ready targets for reprisals.”

Violence against the transgender community in Honduras has been rising for years. In addition to the three murders, three violent attacks were reported during the November-December time frame. On November 21, Bibi, another transgender sex worker, was shot while working in a park in the city of Comayaguela. And two transgender rights activists were attacked on December 20 while doing HIV/AIDS outreach work in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa.

Nicole, 32, was a transgender rights leader who worked as a spokesperson for the transgender rights organization Colectivo Violeta. She provided information about HIV/AIDS and human rights, and often represented the community in the media, according to Human Rights Watch.

“Cynthia Nicole fought tirelessly to secure basic rights protections for trangender sex workers,” Cano said in a statement.

“The transgender community is terrified,” said Indyra Mendoza, who heads Cattrachas, a lesbian and feminist organization. “But these attacks will not silence the community in Honduras, and we will continue to work to ensure that the rights of transgender people are recognized and protected.”

“The authorities need to find and prosecute the perpetrators of this and previous attacks against the trans community,” Cano said.

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